If it's respect the Kansas University football program is looking for under new head coach David Beaty, adding a guy like Gene Wier to the coaching staff seems like a good place to start.
Sources told the Journal-World early Monday afternoon that longtime Kansas high school coach Wier, who won six state titles at Olathe North before leaving in 2003 for a nine-year stint as the head coach at Richland (Texas) High, soon will be joining Beaty's staff in an off-the-field coaching role.
Wier's specific title was not revealed, but it figures to be something along the lines as the the director of high school relations or on-campus recruiting coordinator position that many programs have.
Regardless of what title he will hold, those close to him in the coaching fraternity said Wier's addition would be a home-run hire for the Jayhawks.
“He's just one of those sincere people who really cares about kids,” Lawrence High coach Dirk Wedd said. “His teams were always very disciplined and he has the innate ability to communicate with kids. He's just very popular and he's a really good ball coach.”
After taking over at Olathe North in 1981, Wier guided the Eagles to a record of 188-36 in 22 seasons, which included six Class 6A titles in a seven-year span from 1996 to 2002. Wedd and Free State coach Bob Lisher — both former LHS assistants — have coached against Wier for years, and said they always respected the way he never changed his approach during the stretch in the late 1980s and early 1990s when Lawrence High dominated the state's high school football scene.
“He's a good friend and a good coach, but I have so much respect for him because of all the years he beat his head against the wall trying to beat Lawrence,” Wedd said. “He had a plan, he stayed the course and he never gave up. And that's kind of how he approaches the job and coaching in general. He just has incredible toughness and character.”
Lisher, who has long been a proponent of Kansas football finding a way to get more local athletes involved in the program, said he thought Wier's presence would go a long way in that area.
“He has ties in Kansas, he has ties in Texas and I think coaches in the state realize that he's a great coach and he's a great person to be around and he's motivated to do things right on and off the field,” Lisher said. “Gene's a trusted guy, and you like to send your guys somewhere that has people you know are gonna take care of them.”
Wier, 66, has shown interest in similar positions at KU in the past, but sources said the timing of this latest opportunity made the move the right fit.